Friday, December 30, 2011

quinoa, kale & confusion

The clean eating has begun! Tonight I even got to cook {I was very worried that I would have to give up my favorite hobby, cooking, to get healthy- but it seems that I don't! yay!}

Stir Fry Veggies with Tofu Potstickers over Quinoa
The cast of characters: 1 cup of quinoa, a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables {I am sure I will find out later that those aren't healthy...} and a bag of Green Chopsticks tofu potstickers {yeah, same with those- they were in the organic aisle though?!}

A wonderful co-worker and friend gave me a set of the most precious measuring cups for Christmas. This one was the perfect vessel for the quinoa. Too cute!

I made the quinoa while stir-frying the veggies then the potstickers in my wok. The whole thing came together very quickly! If you have your quinoa already made- this is easily a 6 minute recipe.

Bonus! It tasted great and was filling. I put a bit of siracha on it for some extra flavoring, but the veggies and quinoa gave great texture to the dish while the potstickers brought the savory flavor. 

-{next recipe}-

Kale Chips

The other night I was intrigued by kale {huh?!} so I bought a bunch {it's cheap!} however I wasn't quite sure how in the world to use it {major "huh?!?!"}. Luckily my Kardashian obsession kicked in and I was reminded of kale chips! {bonus points if you know what I am referring to here...}

I want.

A quick google and bake and I had my very own batch! I loved them so much, I am making more tonight to put in baggies for snacks.......Snacks that will be eaten by just me.... Josh says they taste like burnt newspaper. The girls at work took one look and threw up in their mouths. Weak. 

Cut the leaves off of the rib and then into 1 inch chunks. No need to be specific here.

Gorgeous right!!! 
Drizzle with some EVOO and I like to sprinkle on a little bit of italian bread crumbs {just a little bit} and a little shake of sea salt. Roast on a baking pan for 20 minutes or so in a 275 degree oven until crispy with slightly browned edges. 

Like this! Ta da! 

Try these recipes out and let me know what you think!
:) amc

another year, another dream!

It's the last Friday of 2011 and I think we have ended the year very well! 
Today we booked our wedding ceremony & reception venue! Josh & I are so excited to tie the knot at this gorgeous location surrounded by our favorite friends and family! 

I am a sucker for "Save the Dates" so I am not going to spoil it....
But this is a sneak peak at our location:

:) :) :) :) :) 

And just like 75% of the American population and 100% of Brides-to-Be; I am kicking it into high gear for 2012! 

And given my terrible eating and working out habits the last couple of months...this actually just means "kicking it into gear." Any gear really. Just one that doesn't involve regular beer, delivery pizza and calorie-consumed caffeine drinks. Bad Amanda. 

I am committing to eating clean and getting active- and I actually couldn't be more excited! I  am dragging (seriously dragging) my co-worker and friend Morgan into this with me and maybe (major maybe) the fiance will be inspired as well. He at least will be eating clean dinners! Cheers to the first Tone It Up challenge of 2012! 

Happy New Year!!!!!
:) amc 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! 

With 4 sets of family {don't ask...} celebrating the holidays tends to take a while, in fact it is Christmas again tomorrow for us Cheeks! Since I am used to spending the holidays in dozens of different living rooms and kitchens, it wasn't such a big adjustment to add 1 more family to the mix {my future in-laws!}. 

The Cheek/Hall Christmas Vacation in pictures:

Each year we have a Gingerbread decorating contest. The teams have remained the same for years and it gets pretty competitive and VERY funny

 The winning house! Mine & Gage's! We have won four years in a row now :) 

Josh and I chose Christmas Eve Eve to do gifts together. We flipped on the fireplace, huddled under the tree, made some sweet buttered rum and dug into gifts!
 I have almost perfected my recipe and will post it soon

Isn't Mason so adorable with his giant Christmas gift?!?!!!
 Ignore that tired and pale girl on the right.... 

Yay for JAMM fam Christmas time

Early the next morning we headed up to Chickamauga and Chattanooga for some Hall Family Christmas!

 Off to the country we go!

 We got to spend some wonderful time with Josh's cousins- Dave and Tya

 Such fun!

 We forced Mason to come along with us. And to take tons of pictures with us. 
Don't let the pictures fool you....He loved it. 

 We also got to play with Josh's nieces and nephews! They were SO much fun and just adorable!!!

 I am excited to become "Aunt Amanda" to the little guys! I have a lot to live up to- Josh is one hell of an uncle! So sweet!

Too cute!

Now....Christmas Day! 
We had so much fun Christmas morning with the welcomed addition of Josh and Mason to the family. Santa even found them at the Cheek house! 

 Each year Mom and Dad get Taylor and I an ornament that represents big moments in the past year or new hobbies, accomplishments, etc. This year, my ornament was a diamond ring! 

It was so fun having a FIANCE to spend Christmas with! 

 Christmas morning with Mom and Taylor! 

 Granddaddy came over and Aunt Lauree and Uncle Dale are in town! YAYYY!!

What am amazing family I have! Blessed!!!

Happy Hopes & Dreams Christmas! 

off to Cottage Christmas Round 2 with the Cheeks!

:) amc

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

sizzle & oink

This week my Legally Blonde {Hopes &} dreams came true and I got selected to sit on a jury. I wasn't exactly hoping to get picked and it couldn't have come at a worse time...but I can't say that I hated it! It was like real life Law & Order meets Legally Blonde meets I kind of still want to go into law! :) 
During the jury selection day I was asked a series of questions including what I liked to do in my free time...I said COOK! and what TV shows I like to watch... Sorry Mom & Dad...I said The Kardashians! 

While those in no way go together, they do tend to make a pretty wonderful night for me! So last night I got home, I flipped on E! {of course they were on} and thumbed through my favorite books for a recipe....

We could stop right here and I am supper happy Amanda Macy! 

But it gets better....
Enter "A Recipe I Made Up That I Like" 
Corn & Potato Chowder with Sausage & Bacon

Yup ladies & gentlemen, 2 types of pork. Some nights, just one simply won't do the trick. Tuesday called for two. It told me. 

Sorry Hugh...this made-up recipe is the baby of Williams-Sonoma's Essentials and Tyler Florence. Two more books that you.MUST.own.

There are few things in life that are GUARANTEED to calm me down. And guaranteed means always always always without fail will chill me out. Chopping and sauteing onions is one of those things. 
{Josh- this does not mean you can pass me an onion when you think I am acting like "some sort of crazy person"}

Anyonion- start by sauteing a big ole sweet onion with some minced garlic
Then add in a 32 oz box of chicken stock and 2 chopped up regular potatoes {plus some salt & pepper}. Bring it to a boil, drop it to a simmer, put the lid half on and forget about it for 15 minutes. 

In that 15 minutes, separately cook up your sausage and bacon. I sliced/chunked them up before adding to the pan. And I used that sausage that is sold near the hot dogs in the grocery. {that is the name on the package- "Sausage by the Hot Dogs"- I like to be helpful, you're welcome}. 

Second to sauteing onions, is cooking up bacon and sausage. How can that not make you happy and calm? 
Sizzle & Oink.

We could stop there and the JAMM family would be plenty happy. 
But then I wouldn't get to use my fancy shmancy kitchen machinery!

After 15 minutes or so or until the potatoes of fork tender add a can of {drained} sweet corn kernels and a cup {or more, who can remember these details} of half of half. 
Then dunk your immersion blender into the pot and make that soup creamy!

Now add in one more can of drained sweet corn kernels and the browned sausage slices

Yeah, I am hungry again

Laddle into a bowl and top with bacon and thyme

Let me know if you try it and if it makes it into your "A Recipe I Made Up That I Like"

bon apetit!
:) amc

a cottage cheek christmas

Is it the Holiday season? Is it planning a wedding? Is it that January market is mere days away? Or is it being on a jury? For one reason or another, I feel pulled in 1 million directions and I am so overwhelmed! 
After a therapeutic talk with my Dad, great big hug from my Fiance, love & comfort from my Mom and a fun bitch session with a good friend...I am now settled into my couch, Michael Buble's latest Christmas CD is on, I have a homemade buttered rum cocktail in my hand, Mason the cuddley boxer next to me, fire in the fireplace, Christmas tree lights on and I think I am about ready to tackle the to-do list. 
First up- blog!!! 

After our giant Thanksgiving celebration and knowing that an even more giant Christmas celebration was upon us; I think the Cheek family was longing for a more simple and intimate Holiday celebration. So last Saturday we packed up and met down at Cottage Cheek:

With an exception for the Cindy Lou Who Christmas tree... :) the Cottage was decorated from head to toe and overflowing with Christmas cheer! I was instantly transported to that happy-holiday feeling. 

Mom {and Dad???....} had vintage ornaments scattered about, baskets filled with fresh garland, beautiful seasonal linens and of course....

Our stockings hung on the fireplace! They are so Cottage-perfect! And homemade :) 
It's those special touches...

Before we made our big holiday meal {complete with a turkey! yesss!}, Mom & Dad insisted that we go cut down a....Christmas {?} tree... 

Oh hey there Christmas tree...that looks like a pathetic shrub. 

Poor thing was subject to decorating torture. I would like to take this moment to remind you that both the Cheek-Contigiani-Hall household and the Cheek family do believe in and own actual Christmas trees. So, you don't need to feel sorry for us or anything. :) 

We had a blast cooking a fabulous dinner, playing outside, dressing Mason up and exchanging $5 gifts. We each were tasked with buying each family member {+ Josh!} a gift that only cost $5. The results were HILARIOUS! Everything from movies, books and dog bones to donut sticks, pictures and a DIY beer pong set. We all had an amazing time picking on each other and showing our love. 

 Oh yeah! While the boys loaded up fire wood- I fed chickens!!!

It was so awesome and I totally love this picture. I kind of want to print it.....

Hopes & Dreams is New Traditions!!!
:) amc